OFFALY put down an early marker for the season with a comfortable victory at Wexford Park.
Both sides fielded experimental line-ups, but it was the experience of Offaly's old guard that was decisive. Veteran Joe Bergin continually asked questions of the home defence and was Offaly's star man.
Sean Ryan pointed the visitors in front inside a minute before a speculative lob from Derek Molloy deceived 'keeper Mark Fanning and went into the net. Jack Guiney and Tomas O'Leary had the home side's opening points, but Bergin sent over four points to help his side into a 1-5 to 0-2 lead. Michael O'Hanlon kept Wexford in touch, but with Molloy and Ryan continuing to find the target, the mid-landers led 1-12 to 0-7 at half-time.
Wexford opened the second half well and Rhys Clarke found the net on 39 minutes to reduce the gap to three points, 1-12 to 1-9. But it was Bergin who again stepped up to the mark when he struck a superb overhead goal to push his side six points clear.
Scorers -- Offaly: J Bergin 1-8 (4f, 1 '65), D Molloy 1-2, S Ryan 0-2, C McDonald, C Mahon, M Morkan, D Mooney, S Dooley (f), T Carroll 0-1 each. Wexford: J Guiney 0-5 (2f), M O'Hanlon 0-4, R Clarke 1-0, T O'Leary 0-2, C Farrell, J Berry, G Moore, I Byrne 0-1 each.
Offaly -- E Kelly; B Mulrooney, S Coughlan, B Watkins; B Harding, C McDonald, D Horan; M Verney, C Mahon; C Egan, D Molloy, M Morkan; S Ryan, J Bergin, D Mooney. Subs: J Regan for Harding; T Carroll for Morkan; S Dooley for Ryan; S Wynne for Mahon.
Wexford -- M Fanning; B McCormack, B Travers, B Kenny; W Devereux, J Lacey, S Murphy; D O'Keeffe, C Farrell; M O'Hanlon, S Tomkins, J Berry; T O'Leary, R Clarke, J Guiney. Subs: D M Carroll for Farrell; G Moore for Clarke; I Byrne for Tomkins; S O'Gorman for Devereux; C Kehoe for Guiney.
Ref -- S Cleere (Kilkenny)